A third amendment to the Sheriff’s Office Pension Plan was brought up at the Calvert Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at their July 21 meeting. The Assistant Sheriff, Major McDowell had contacted the pension plan attorney and requested the amendment. The amendment would allow retirees to be rehired as contract employees and not have to participate in a new pension plan but would allow them to collect their original pensions.
On July 1st, the Board of Trustees of the Sheriff’s Department Pension Plan met and discussed the pending amendment. The Board is comprised of three citizens, 3 members of the sheriff’s office (one of whom is retired) and three county employees – the County Administrator, the Director of Public Safety and the Director of Finance and Budget. The Board recommended that the Board of County Commissioners not adopt the amendment. They found the amendment would have a negative impact on the plan as the newly retired member would no longer be required to contribute to the plan.
Cpl. Tom Phelps, President of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 109, said, “We shouldn’t even be standing here right now, arguing the amendment is necessary, especially since the retirement rate is so low that many retired deputies need to work after retirement”.
The convoluted amendment was denounced by the Board of Trustees and drew the ire of a number of deputies, including Retired Sheriff’s Office Captain Steve Jones, who had retired on June 30th and felt the trustees’ decision was aimed at him. He was looking to be rehired as a contractor for the sheriff’s office and wanted the pension due him. “I’ve been shot at, I’ve been cut, I’ve been peed on, and I’ve been run over by a bus, “explained the retired Captain. “I have put in over 25 years and have earned my retirement, even if I work for the sheriff as a contractor”.
After the commissioners discussed the amendment, Commissioner Pat Nutter, as a retired Sheriff’s Office deputy, recused himself from the vote. The other four voted for the amendment, to allow retired deputies to collect their pensions and if rehired as contractors, would not have to participate in a pension plan.
According to Assistant Sheriff, Major Dave McDowell, not passing the amendment would have impeded the Sheriff from using contract employees in other locations besides the courthouse. This gives him latitude.
Retired Sheriff’s Office Captain Steve Jones remarked, “I appreciate all of the support that I received this past Tuesday from the Community, the Sheriff’s Office Command Staff, from Cpl. Tom Phelps “FOP” President and from the Calvert County Commissioners. I have served Calvert County for almost 26 years. As a result of this amendment, I will continue my public service as a Special Deputy in Calvert County. I appreciate the opportunities that I have had and look forward to the challenges ahead. I am looking forward to continuing work with community leaders and the great citizens that call Calvert County home”.
Margit Miller / Calvert Beacon